Motley Fool One SMA’s – Now With Less Motley

In September 2014, Motley Fool One’s SMA offerings underwent a significant change. It used to be that the SMA’s exactly matched one of their portfolios (Supernova, MDP, Pro, or Everlasting), and they touted the ability of members to follow their favorite service exactly via these accounts. It was the ultimate in auto-pilot investing for those that wanted to invest with the Motley Fool but didn’t want to be bothered with executing all the trades, and worrying about matching allocations. And if you were a believer that a certain Motley Fool portfolio would outperform, you could rest assured that by opening up one of these SMA’s your performance would equal the performance of the portfolio. It was a great solution.

Now however they have changed that approach and the SMA’s no longer exactly match the service they are named after, but instead are “inspired” by those services. This means that they may not actually buy all the same stocks the portfolio buys, or may in fact own stocks that the portfolio never bought. They will likely overlap quite a lot but the important distinction here is that you are not actually able to do the type of auto-pilot investing they originally touted. It will be close, but not exactly the same.

Most importantly, you are basically relying on advisors other than the portfolio managers to pick the stocks they will invest and at one allocation. So if you open a Pro SMA because you are a fan of Jeff Fischer (the lead advisor for Motley Fool Pro), you are not necessarily getting Jeff’s exact recommendations; instead you are relying on the SMA managers, Brian Hinmon and Nate Weisshaar, to make the investments for you, inspired by what Jeff is doing. What’s the big deal, you might ask, surely it will be very close? I would argue that I can run my own portfolio inspired by Jeff Fischer without paying the extra money to join One.

The other big change they made with their SMA offerings is that they now have 3 new portfolio strategy SMA’s: International, US Small/Midcap, and Fixed Income. As the names suggest, they provide exposure to those sectors. It’s an expansion of their offerings and is another step for Motley Fool moving to become a full fledged Wealth Management shop. It’s a logical transition for them, and it will be interesting to see how it evolves.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • lyd July 24, 2015, 11:42 am

    Wish this had been in place when I subscribed last year to Motley Fool One SMA.
    Wouldn’t have lost so much money. Would advise potential new subscribers to be careful. With the one year guarantee, sure you get your fee back but you can sustain big losses in a year.

  • Peter July 14, 2016, 10:28 am

    What might be the reason for the change? Technical issue that prevented them from simulating the change in other people’s accounts? Curious why it now needs to be inspired rather than exact. Were they not able to fill all orders exactly the same for all accounts?

    • Kevin July 31, 2016, 9:06 pm

      Peter, sorry for the delayed response. There was some conversation, if I recall, about the complications of managing a real money portfolio to that level of detail – there were concerns about liquidity and I believe also about having undue influence on stock prices, for some of their smaller, less heavily traded stocks. You will often see stock prices jump when one of the MF services recommends it, so I imagine if on top of all the regular subscribers, they also had to go out and purchase probably millions of dollars of stock at a specific point in time, they wouldn’t be able to secure the stock at the same price, as the SMA guidelines would have “promised”. Now they can just substitute one small-cap semiconductor stock recommended by Supernova for another similar small cap semiconductor one, I guess.

  • Lezli Gibbs January 25, 2018, 7:22 pm

    Motley Fool managed accounts are not cheap… I paid an upfront management fee for a 5- year SMA account and have lost money. I will never again pay a front load on my assets. Fees based on performance I might consider. I have my 401k with a Capital One robo account and it’s doing well, additionally I am doing better with self management of assets at Schwab than Motley Fool has done with 400K.


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